Spotlight on Becky Lower

I am happy to feature Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower and her new release, Expressly Yours, Samantha.

Here’s Becky!

beckylowerAs is the case with most authors, I started writing complicated plot lines as soon as I could pick up a crayon. But there’s a world of difference between being a writer and being an author. The author thing didn’t happen until much later in my life.

For years, I’d entertain my friends with long stories about my complicated, dysfunctional family. While they enjoyed my stories, I was constantly told I should write them down instead of being a vocal storyteller. I ignored their good advice since I was busy with a job and had a rambling old house that kept falling apart.

Then, my life got shook up. The economic downturn happened and my job disappeared. While I scrambled for ways to pay the mortgage on the rambling old house, I saw an ad for an adult learning course offered at a local community college, on How To Write A Romance Novel. Even though it had been years since I’d written anything, I signed up for the class.

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I’d like to say I went right from that class to selling my first manuscript to a major publisher. But reality didn’t match up with my dreams. That first manuscript is still under the bed. Oh, I worked on it, entered it in some contests, took the feedback and rewrote it, even won a contest based on the first three chapters. But it never quite gelled for me. I’ll get back to it some day, since it contains two of my most favorite things–time travel and the early American west.

As I slid the time travel idea under the bed, I asked myself what I really wanted to write. I’m a big fan of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, but I didn’t want to write books set in England. Then, a friend of mine began to talk about her days as a debutante and her Cotillion Ball, and the lightbulb moment happened. The Cotillion may have begun in Europe, but it did eventually make its way into American high society. A bit of research later, and my Cotillion Ball Series was born. There are nine siblings in this well-to-do New York family, and each one has patiently (or, in Jasmine’s case, not so patiently) waited for their own book to be written. Expressly Yours, Samantha, is the seventh book in this nine-book series, and features the youngest boy in the family, Valerian. He’s a rider for the fabled Pony Express and fate brings him into contact with Sam Hughes, who is really a girl named Samantha, on the run from an abusive uncle.

Obviously, I like to write about American history and use it as a backdrop for my stories. I was fortunate to have the Cotillions begin during an era where there was so much going on in America–tensions were mounting between the North and South over slavery, the West was being opened to settlers willing to face the journey, the Pony Express, and then the Civil War. What an exciting time in America as events, both great and small, impacted the lives of those living through it.

But what an enormous amount of research was needed for each book. So, I began to write contemporaries in between each historical, just for a break from the research. I now have three contemporaries in print and a trilogy under way. All the books so far are about women who reinvent themselves when their first acts were finished. Kind of the story of my life, wouldn’t you say?

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Blurb

Samantha Hughes has one day to escape from her wicked uncle, and a sign in the post office is her answer. She’ll cut her hair to pose as a man and become Sam Hughes, a Pony Express rider.

Valerian Fitzpatrick doesn’t want the weight of responsibility that his brothers have in the family business. Fortunately, the Pony Express offers a chance to make his own way in the world.

He assumes his new buddy, Sam, is on the run from the law, until she’s hit by a stray gunshot and he has to undress her to staunch the wound. Friendship quickly turns to attraction—and more—but when Sam’s uncle tracks her down, she is forced to run yet again.

Val’s determined to find her, but will a future with Sam mean giving up the freedom he’s always craved?

Bio

Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it on a covered wagon headed west or in present day small town America. Historical and contemporary romances are her specialty. Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a member of the Historic and Contemporary RWA chapters. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary. She loves to hear from her readers at beckylowerauthor@gmail.com.

Where to find Becky…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon

Failure is What Success Looks Like, Before It’s Born

I am happy to feature Soul Mate author Zen DiPietro and her upcoming release Guardians of Terath: Seeking Sorrow.

Here’s Zen!

zendipietroIn any creative process, you have to make a lot of bad things before you can make good things. I got my bad books out of the way right after college. I’m glad of that, because it paved the way for what came later.

It took me several years afterward to get back to writing, but when the idea for Seeking Sorrow came along, it started burrowing into my head with two particular scenes. I wrote the entire book around those two scenes. Not surprisingly, they’re two of my favorite sections of the whole book.

Once I’d resolved to get this story out of my head and into text, it all poured out, and the product was Seeking Sorrow. And then Facing Fortune. And now the not-yet-named Book 3 of the series.

If you have a passion for something, keep at it. If the first few things you make aren’t any good, be glad for them, because you’re that much closer to making something that really makes you proud.

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Excerpt

An earth-like world of high-tech humans faces the reality that their world is not as safe as they thought it was. Five people are thrown together to quietly get to the bottom of an unfathomable mana event that must stay quiet. If the population of Terath becomes aware of the truth, it will spark a civil war. That war would pit the majority of the population against the powerful minority with the ability to harness and manipulate mana. The resulting cataclysm would decimate the population and tear apart the foundation of society.

The five people chosen for this must reconsider everything they thought they knew about mana, even as they learn to trust one another’s abilities. They must embrace everything they never wanted in order to prevent the devastation of their world. One of them will be forever changed. Love will be denied, badassery will be unleashed, and Terath will never be the same.

Even success comes at a price.

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Bio

Zen DiPietro is a lifelong bookworm, a fantasy/sci-fi writer, a dancer, and a mom of two. Also red-haired, left-handed, and a vegetarian geek. Absolutely terrible at conforming. Particular loves include badass heroines, Star Trek, British accents, baba ganoush, and the smell of Band-Aids. Writing reviews, author interviews, and fun stuff at Women of Badassery. Very active on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Where to find Zen…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

Irish Blessings

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May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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May you have:
A world of wishes at your command.
God and his angels close to hand.
Friends and family their love impart,
and Irish blessings in your heart!

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May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been
the foresight to know where you’re going
and the insight to know when you’re going too far.

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May God grant you always…
A sunbeam to warm you,
A moonbeam to charm you,
A sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you.

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May your troubles be less,
And your blessing be more.
And nothing but happiness,
Come through your door.

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May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun.
And find your shoulder to light on.
To bring you luck, happiness and riches.
Today, tomorrow and beyond.

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HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

When Imagination is Involved…

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Layne Macadam chatting about her multi-act life and recent release, Obsession Down Under.

Here’s Layne!

Layne Macadam PNG (2)Thank you Joanne for having me here today. I really enjoyed writing this piece as it got me thinking, which is always a good thing!

I look back on my life to date and believe there have been many acts so far, and God willing, there will be many more. My writing career started late, I guess, by many standards. Married young and with children now grown, I needed to do something I enjoyed and to feel a sense of worth. Because I love to read, it dawned on me I could write my own stories and make characters and situations turn out exactly how my imagination dictated.

My first book took several years to complete. I enjoyed the research and commitment it took to actually finish a manuscript of that length. I sent it off to various publishers and when a contract popped up in my inbox, it gave me an immense sense of achievement. Also what fascinated me was how the characters took on a life of their own. That was something I never anticipated, how could this happen? But when imagination is involved anything can happen and did!

As my book collection is growing so is my confidence in what I do and in what I am capable of achieving. It is a heady feeling this power I have at my fingertips. Obsession Down Under is the first story that is set in one of my favorite places on earth, a country town called Glen Innes in my home state of New South Wales, Australia, and for that reason it will always be special. The hero, Whip McGregor, has three brothers and a sister, so it is very possible, at some future point, I will write another tale on one of the McGregor’s from Highland Glen!

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Blurb

Aspiring author Jessica Butler-Reid has never done anything exciting in her entire life. The daughter of a Minister and his aging wife, she sees her life heading down the same tedious predictable path has her mom’s, organizing church fetes, bazaars, and bake-offs. But when she innocently posts a help request on an Internet forum for some technical advice with her book, her life is changed forever when Australian cattle rancher, Whip McGregor, answers the call.

Jessica embarks on an adventure of a lifetime, but little does she know her decision to accept his offer of a two-week paid vacation to the land Down Under will, jeopardize more than one life and, have far-reaching consequences neither she nor Whip could have foreseen.

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Bio

Layne lives with her husband, two dogs, and a cat on the mid-eastern coast of New South Wales, Australia. In addition to being an author she has a degree in history and holds down a full-time job.

She has always been an avid reader and voraciously consumes all types of fiction, but she particularly loves a happy ending, so writing romance seemed a natural progression for her. But as she sat at the computer one day — staring at a blank screen — it all seemed rather daunting. Yet once she finally started tapping on the keys, the words kept flowing, and what was meant to be a short story turned into a full-blown novel, Desire Unleashed, the first book in the “Desire” series.

Layne writes contemporary romance, paranormal, and sci-fi. With her passion for travel and a love of history an historical romance is not outside the realms of possibility.

When she’s not writing, you might find her tackling a craft project, walking by the lake, or in the kitchen creating some culinary delights.

Where to find Layne…

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Joanne here!

Layne, thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. Best of luck with Obsession Down Under.

Changing Channels

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author MJ Compton chatting about her inspiring journey and recent release, And Jericho Burned.

Here’s MJ!

MJ Compton Author Photo (2)When I was barely twenty-years old, I fell into a job that would dominate my life through the next three decades. I honestly thought I would retire from the local network television affiliate. Over the years, I held many positions there, working my way up the ladder through hard work and a willingness to learn and do more. Even after the station was sold to a smaller organization, I believed I was a valued employee.

One of the general managers (after the sale, we had a new General Manger every couple of years) called me on day and said, “I hear you’re a writer.” I just looked at him, because I knew the previous GM had eliminated with the promotion department as a cost-cutting measure. “I need someone to write news promotion,” he continued.

I replied: “Oh, I don’t do that kind of writing. I write fiction.”

“But you write.”

“I don’t deal with fact,” I said. “I make stuff up.”

“But I need a promo writer to write news teases.”

“I lie!”

And that’s how I became the acting promotion director—not just writing news teases on a daily basis, but purchasing spots on local radio stations, creating an on-promotion schedule from scratch and all the other tasks a two-person TV promotion department usually handles . . . on top of being the programming coordinator, a job that combined the past positions of Program Director and Program Assistant.

My children were young at the time. I would pick them up from their after school program, bring them back to the office with me for another hour or so, then take them home, feed them, and go back to the office or onto my home computer to work some more. Fortunately, my husband is an equal opportunity parent. I don’t know how we would have managed otherwise.

I worked double duty for over three years. I did get a very small raise, but nowhere near what a “real” promotion manager would have made in that position.

One morning, the newest GM hired a promotion specialist, stepped into my office, closed the door, and told me my position had been eliminated.

Oh, I received a nice severance package. I negotiated for my laptop computer which had been purchased for me as the promotion person. But after 30+ years of being a go-to person, I was gone.

Over the next several months, I worked with my then-agent on revising my books. I also did temporary office work, reached out to people in the industry, and went on job interviews. One day, the employment agency with which I was registered asked about my Excel skills.

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Two weeks later, I was working temp-to-hire in a whole new industry. I got to play with spread sheets all day long without once taking a call from a cranky viewer. And I liked the work.

But every morning as I walked up the sidewalk to the employee entrance, I thought: “This is not my life.” I was no longer able to run home for lunch every day. My co-workers were not the creative, manic types one meets in broadcasting. The workplace was a culture shock. Some of the little dramas were the same, but I’d outgrown those. As I told my supervisor, “Been there, done that, have a drawer full of t-shirts to prove it.”

Temp-to-hire became gainfully employed. I gradually came to the realization that I’d had my career, while most of the people on my team were just starting out. Once I accepted the new position was a job, not the lifestyle local broadcasting had been, I was okay./

I’m calmer now. I’m content. This Day Job doesn’t intrude in my home life the way broadcasting did. I have more energy to put into my writing career. And now, when situations threaten to overwhelm me, I can remember what Eckhart Tolle said: “This moment is temporary.”/

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Hook/

Lucy Callahan will do anything to save her sister, even if that means marrying a stranger. Even if that stranger is an undercover government agent out to destroy the cult holding her sister hostage. Even if that stranger is a . . . werewolf.

Blurb

Lucy Callahan will do anything to rescue her sister from a cult, even marry a werewolf she’s just met. But the werewolves are working undercover for the government, and Lucy fears a confrontation between the agents and the cult could be deadly.

Stoker Smith longs to be the best thing that ever happened to his human mate. He wants to take her home, start their family, and compose his music. And although his pack’s treaty with the government says he doesn’t have to work undercover now that he’s mated, he promised Lucy he’d get her sister out of the cult’s heavily armed compound. Lucy’s sister is now family and to a werewolf, family is everything.

But Operation Jericho quickly turns ugly, thrusting Lucy into the middle of her worst nightmare, where she must choose: her sister or the man she’s grown to love.

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Bio

MJ Compton grew up near Cardiff, New York, a place best known for its giant, which turned out to be a fiction so incredible, PT Barnum himself borrowed it. That’s a tough act to follow, but MJ tried—by composing her own stories.

Although her 30-year career in local television included such highlights as being bitten by a lion, preempting a US President for a college basketball game, giving a three-time world champion boxer a few black eyes, a mention in the Drudge Report, and meeting her husband, MJ’s urge to create her own stories never went away.

MJ still lives in upstate New York with her husband. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and Central New York Romance Writers. Music and cooking are two of her passions, and she enjoys baseball and college basketball, but she’s primarily focused on wine . . . and writing.

Where to find M.J.

Website/Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Tsu | Goodreads | Amazon

Buy Links for Moonlight Serenade

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | Barnes & Noble

Joanne here!

MJ, thanks for an inspiring and motivating post. And Jericho Burned sounds delicious. I’m putting it on my TBR list.

The Reinvention of AND(REA) (Y) (IE) (I)

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have The Wild Rose Press author Andrea Downing sharing several spectacular acts and introducing her recent release, Dances of the Heart.

Here’s Andrea!

andredwoningIf a butterfly can undergo metamorphosis from a creepy crawly caterpillar into something beautiful and extraordinary, why shouldn’t a human being, with all his/her numerous sensibilities, be able to change at will?

I’m not quite sure how many Acts, exactly, there are to my story, but Act One was certainly as Andrea, a girl born into a quite ordinary, suburban New York family. “Andrea” didn’t last very long; I always hated the name, at least until an acquaintance told me she thought it a very glamorous appellation and also wanted it. But I digress: Andrea became Andy very early.

I wasn’t sure about that spelling. It looked boyish. Commonplace. Pedestrian. And I had dreams of going on stage, attended drama school one summer, and generally tried out for every play at school. So Andy became Andie, which looked and felt a bit more suitable. That was Act Two.

everthingbritishAnd that lasted until the Beatles came on the scene. S-x, dr?gs & rock ‘n’ roll. Anything British was “super” and so Andi, minus the ‘e’ (slightly more exotic that way) headed off to live in England. Act Three? Maybe. Or perhaps that was the real Act Two. I’m not sure to be honest, but it lasted a very long time between getting an M.A., getting married, having a daughter, moving eight times (or was it nine? No ten!), getting divorced, and watching daughter head off to university back in the good ol’ USA. Somewhere in there I started writing. A bit at first—the odd story (odd being a useful word here in both senses), poems, travel articles, a novel or two now in boxes, even a screenplay. And, over forty or so years, I became totally Anglicized! Parking lots became carparks, sidewalks became pavements, elevators morphed into lifts before my very eyes. Not only that, but I actually learned to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. But now comes Act Four: The Reinvention of Andi…

Cristal, my darling daughter (named for the champagne), decided to stay in New York after graduation, and I was faced with the reality of living on another continent away from her. The situation came home to roost when I got ill, and we thought Cristal might have to take leave from her job for a while to look after me, and then the British Government also started to get nasty about what they called non-domiciled aliens. See my antennae? What’s a girl to do? Head home and reinvent again!

It wasn’t easy leaving friends of many years, abandoning a place I had called home and a way of life I knew. Good-bye Branston Pickle, HP Sauce, Cadbury’s Twirls and TCP. I now live five blocks from my daughter when she returns to live in her New York apartment from working for the UN in Colombia. But here’s the crux of Act Four, the Reinvention of Andi Downing. I finally decided I had nothing to lose by sending off my writing—a western novel—to a publisher, and guess what? I now have two published western novels and two published historical western novellas under my belt. As author…Andrea Downing!

So, is Act Four the Finale? Shakespearean dramas have Five Acts!

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Blurb

Successful, workaholic author Carrie Bennett lives through her writing, but can’t succeed at writing a man into her life. Furthermore, her equally successful but cynical daughter, Paige, proves inconsolable after the death of her fiancé.

Hard-drinking rancher Ray Ryder can find humor in just about anything—except the loss of his oldest son. His younger son, Jake, recently returned from Iraq, now keeps a secret that could shatter his deceased brother’s good name.

On one sultry night in Texas, relationships blossom when the four meet, starting a series of events that move from the dancehalls of Hill Country to the beach parties of East Hampton, and from the penthouses of New York to the backstreets of a Mexican border town. But the hurts of the past are hard to leave behind, especially when old adversaries threaten the fragile ties that bind family to family…and lover to lover.

Buy Links

Amazon | The Wild Rose Press | Barnes & Noble

Bio

Andrea Downing likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York, where she was born, instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK. She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit. Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC. She now divides her time between the city and the shore, and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming. Family vacations are often out west and, to date, she and her daughter have been to some 20 ranches throughout the west. Loveland, her first book, was a finalist for Best American Historical at the 2013 RONE Awards. Lawless Love, a short story, part of The Wild Rose Press ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ series, was a finalist for Best Historical Novella at the RONE Awards and placed in the 2014 International Digital Awards Historical Short contest. Dearest Darling, a novella, is part of The Wild Rose Press Love Letters series, and came out Oct. 8th, 2014, and Dances of the Heart, her first contemporary novel, came out in February, 2015.

Where to find Andrea…

Website/Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | LinkedIn | Amazon

Joanne here!

Andrea, I’m impressed and inspired by your journey. If you ever run out of storylines, consider writing your memoirs.